THE CITY OF TREMBLING LEAVES by Walter Van Tilburg Clark


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The man can write. He writes so well that it is worth working one's way through his spate of words to get at the meat, to seek out the narrow of the bone, to come upon occasional passages that don't need excision. He writes so well that one resents the final result not being better than it is. The temptation is to blue pencil for the same of bringing the whole into sharpened focus. For here is a book that almost inevitably will be compared -- and not unfavorably -- with Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward Angel. This too is the inner searching of youth, the painful processes of adolescence and the growing pains of early maturity. Clark has projected himself, one feels, through two characters, each one at war with himself, --Tim Hazard, born of plain people, and ultimately emerging from his personal battle through his music and his long-postponed realization that in Mary he has always had the potential of completion; and Lawrence Black, whose painting is largely the projection of his inner conflict and not its solution, and whose life with Helen is intensified torture which must be put off if he is to find sur. The ""city of trembling leaves"" is Reno, not the Reno of ""the cure"", but a Reno that its own people know and love, a city which is a symbol. The story takes into its being Carnel, retreat of artists, the high Sierras, a bit of San Francisco, but it is wholly a story of the West -- and youth. Not the West of Clark's Oxbow Incident -- the story is entirely developed through the impact of personality on personality, plot growing out of character, ground almost a part of character, and the east is a large one with Tim and Lawrence at its center....This is more a man's book -- a young man's book -- than a woman's book. It is not a book for a thin-skinned audience; there is something here of D.N. Lawrence as well as Tom Wolfe. But it is not a book to be dismissed as just another wallowing in youth's problems.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1945
Publisher: Random House